I’m a Trekkie.
I realize I just cost myself a lot of cred with my hard core readers, the ones who expect me to be a cynical bastard 24/7. But I can’t help it. If I was ever in the same room as William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy or Nicholas Meyer, I’d probably swoon. Ridiculous. Stupid. But there it is.
I spent all afternoon–that’s right, all afternoon–putting together a model of the starship Enterprise and I’m feeling positively giddy as I look at the end result of my endeavors. Okay, it’s not perfect. It’s been thirty years since I put together a plastic model kit; I took one look at the instructions and howled for my son Liam to come and help me. Liam is a genius at Lego or, really, anything that requires assembly. He put together our barbecue when he was eleven because I went into a stuttering rage and had to be restrained from smashing it into its component atoms. True story.
I have a terrible temper. Murderous. Especially when it comes to recalcitrant objects.
Liam very patiently lent his assistance to assembling the kit. To his credit, he insisted I do all the work, he just supervised to make sure I didn’t end up splashing the fucking thing with gasoline and setting it ablaze.
I screwed up, no question. Supposedly the snap together unit (from Polar Lights) was “Skill Level 2, For Ages 10 to Adult”. Ten? Maybe a ten year old Stephen Hawking. I chose mismatching engine nacelles and my spray paint was too old, my hands shook too much and I didn’t have the right colours so had to mix and match but, y’know, I got the thing together and got to spent three quality hours with my oldest son.
It brought back a lot of memories for me too. From the time I was eight or nine years old, I loved watching “Star Trek”. Every Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. (after Bugs Bunny), I’d be in front of the TV, ready to watch the latest exploits of the Enterprise crew. And, later, me and my buddy Brent would buy and build the AMT models; his were always so much better than mine (fucker had a lovely touch) but I forgave him. His Klingon battleship was gorgeous (except he kept dropping it and breaking its long neck).
Scan-read William Shatner’s autobiography some weeks ago and was somewhat surprised to learn that he and Nimoy didn’t become friends until long after the series was over. Gene Roddenberry doesn’t fare well in Shatner’s account–in fact, the Great Bird of the Galaxy turns out to be a first class asshole. Sigh.
Ah, well, so Gene wasn’t a nice guy or a good writer or faithful husband…his initial concept of a “wagon train to the stars” was a good one and he was fortunate enough to secure three leads who, despite their disdain for each other, created a rare chemistry on-screen.
Whenever I’m in a bad mood, I crack in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”. It’s by far the best of the series and a terrific movie, by any standards. Lots of action, suspense…and a death scene that makes my eyes sting every time.
Trek‘s message, however crudely delivered, was a positive one, humans using their ingenuity and courage to overcome obstacles, revealing the very best qualities of our species (while not shrinking from portraying the absolute worst). It’s a theme that resonates, not just with kids but with grownup kids too. Human existence need not be nasty, brutish and short. We can aspire to reach the stars and use the enormous mental capacity that we’ve been given to achieve great things.
Shatner was a shit, Nimoy a drunk, Roddenberry…well, no need to speak further ill against the dead.
But what they succeeded in creating, together, transcended all of them and for that we can forgive them their flaws and foibles.
They lived long and they prospered…and by accident or design, succeeded in creating a legendary series that is still relevant, still entertaining (especially if you like camp) and still capable of instilling joy in the heart of a 45 year old man with a bent back, stiff fingers and irritable bowel.
And that’s saying something.